Category Archives: Christianity

Jesus in the Old Testament?

Does the following passage give us a glimpse of Jesus in the Old Testament?

What do you think?

Judges 13

21 But the angel of the Lord did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the Lord.

22 And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.

23 But his wife said unto him, If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these.

Hate, Love, and Homosexuality

Did you know that there are verses in the Bible that say that God hated Esau? (Malachi 1:3, Romans 9:13) I have read the verses over and over in my lifetime but never gave them much thought.

One day, a man in our church preached about it. He challenged me and compelled me to come to terms with the meaning of those passages. He and I arrived at different conclusions, but nonetheless, I am indebted to him for forcing me to look into this topic.

You see, it’s NOT okay to read the Bible, soak up the parts that sound good to us, and let the rest fall to the ground. (Which is, unfortunately, what most people do. They create their own god – based on the parts of the Bible that they like.)

The painful truth is, if the verses about God hating anyone were true, then He was not the God that I’d always believed Him to be. Or, so I thought.

I went home from that church service unable to sleep or do anything other than think about what I’d been forced to read. I stayed up late that night and got up early the next day, insistent on getting to the heart of the matter. I would not rest until I had the answers in my hand. I turned to just about every reference book I owned, searched the web, looked up every possible related passage in the Bible, wrote pages of notes. I WOULD have resolution, and I would have it soon.

Here is a note that I wrote to myself in the margin of one of those pages:

“How can we fit those verses into the same Bible? How can He be the same God? We know He is, by the many proofs we have seen (Feast days, OT points to Christ). If it doesn’t seem to fit, there must be a misunderstanding of some kind.”

You see, in the quest for truth, one thing is absolutely necessary: that we learn to be honest with ourselves.

At first, I went looking for excuses. I thought that perhaps it was okay to hate people who were doomed anyway – I rationalized by wondering if it was because they deserved the penalty for their sins. But that didn’t make sense to me because I knew that God did not desire for anyone to perish, but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Also, I deserve the penalty for my sin, but God doesn’t hate me. In addition, David said that he himself hated people with a perfect hatred. Was David righteous enough to hate an imperfect perfect person? No.

Next, I thought to myself – perhaps the meaning of “hate” has changed since 1611. For the next page or so of notes, I based all of my research on this idea. After all, we know that English words like “conversation” (lifestyle), “knew” (had sex with), “let” (hinder), “meat” (food), “quick” (living), “quit” (keep on), and “suffer” (allow) have all changed in meaning since 1611.

This argument was close enough, and I finally got some sleep.

Skip forward to today.

For the past 18 months or so, I have been studying Hebrew. And lately, I have learned a few things about their language and the way they see the world: Hate is not what I thought it was. Neither is love.

Try to fully define either of those words for yourself, and what do you get? Paragraphs of explanations and examples. They are called abstract ideas for a reason. And if you compare your perception of these nouns to anyone else’s, there will be inconsistencies, contradictions, arguments. I have discovered that the Western way of thinking is wholly to blame for this. The reason we don’t understand things such as faith, love, or hate is because we are looking at them through a Western lens.

The Word of God was penned by people who understood the reality of these terms. The Eastern mindset is concrete. In order to love someone, you have to do it, not feel it. And that makes sense, doesn’t it? If you don’t do it, then you don’t really feel it either. A mother who fails to feed her starving baby does not love that baby, no matter how she thinks she feels about him. Hate and many other abstract words function the same way.

When God spoke of hating Esau, He wasn’t telling us how He felt about them. He was telling us that He actively worked against them. He brought judgment down upon them. Not because He wanted to destroy them, but because His righteousness demands that all sin must be paid for.

In reality, He desired to save them, just as He desires to save everyone. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

If you persist in rejecting the Messiah’s substitutional sacrifice in your behalf, then you will necessarily pay for your own sins, which will prevent you from inheriting eternal life. (The wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23)

So that’s the biblical definition of hate. Then what is love? The Almighty God loves us by doing what is best for us. God’s entire Law hinges on love. In it, He tells us how to live a healthy and successful life. The Law is love. The Law is life. After informing us of the best way to live, He allows us to choose whether we want to walk in the ways of life or abandon it.

If there is sin in our lives, then the Law prescribes correction. It’s not always pleasant, and it’s not always what we would choose for ourselves, but it is always best. If you are a parent that loves your child, then surely you have corrected him. Parenthood is the perfect object lesson. There’s a reason He calls Himself our Father.

So how do we even begin to love Him in return? I have one word for you, and that is obedience. Look it up. Read your whole Bible this year, and when you have finished it, tell me if I’m wrong. “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15

The following is a story about a lawyer who was trying to trick Jesus into tripping over His words. I believe that He wanted Jesus to belittle some of God’s words (making them less important in comparison to others). Here’s how the story goes:

Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,  Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:35-40

How did Jesus score? Did He pass the test? Yes, He did. His answer was rhetorical. All of God’s words are equally important. So Jesus said to love Him and love people. In doing these two things, you will walk in all of God’s commandments because:

Love for God = obedience

Love for your neighbor = lawful behavior toward mankind

Jesus’ response to the lawyer points out the weight of the whole Law. He had the same response for satan: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that procedeeth out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 – not just some words, but all of them.

Time for a few more abstract terms:

Forgiveness. Have you ever wondered how to forgive someone? It’s not in how you feel about them. It’s how you behave toward them. It’s what you say behind their back; it’s how you treat them to their face.

What is faith? Behaving like you believe. That’s it. Faith manifests itself in action. It is the evidence of things not seen. If there’s no action, there’s no faith. James 2:18 is rhetorical: “shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” Read the whole chapter to get the big picture.

One more really controversial topic; I will say as little as possible while still making myself clear: homosexuality itself is concrete. If you aren’t sleeping with members of the same sex, then you aren’t a homosexual. If you sleep with a member of the same sex, and then stop again, then you aren’t a homosexual. In fact, we really shouldn’t be using the adjective homosexual to define a person at all. There is homosexuality – that is the noun, the act. For Christians to call another human being a homosexual is for Christianity to buy into the belief that we are born that way and have no say in the matter.

Perhaps you stole a candy bar from the gas station 30 years ago. Do you refer to yourself as a thief for the rest of your life? Perhaps you know the combination to the safe at work. You daydream about making off with the money and retiring to a tropical island. Do you refer to yourself as a thief because of your temptation? No. Thievery is what you do – how you behave. It is an action.

What about a recovering sugar-addict? You may dream about ice cream, donuts, and candy bars all day long. Yet you care more about your health, so you deny yourself sugar. (IMHO, this is the same reason that God told us not to commit homosexuality – because it’s not healthy, and he wanted us to know that it isn’t good for us.) Do you label yourself a sugar addict forever, or do your actions define who you really are?

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t refrain from thinking homosexual thoughts. We should also refrain from fantasizing about burglary, extra-marital sex, vengeance, any number of things. Thoughts lead to action. However, I am worried about all of the kids and teens and even adults out there who are going to start labeling themselves as homosexuals just because an impure thought crossed their mind. We don’t label ourselves fornicators and adulterers at the slightest temptation. Why would we do the same for homosexuality? I’m afraid that these people will buy into the idea that they are “homosexuals” and that their belief will lead to behavior. What do you think?

Again, I know I’ve touched on some highly controversial topics here. I would venture to say that many Christians and many homosexuals will be offended by some of the things I’ve said here today. However, I do want to hear from you. My mind is forever adapting to new information, so I encourage any feedback you may have for me. Let’s just give our best effort to respect each other and keep things civil. 

Why I Ditched Religion – by Katharine Trauger

On Monday, I asked a sincere question, and I have received some really great, honest feedback from you all in return. You can check it out on my post Truth-Seekers? Are You There? Be sure to read the comment section, because that’s where you’ll be challenged and find the best conversations.

Today, I wish to share one of those answers with you.

Guest post by Katharine Trauger at Home’s Cool!

When I was twelve–I remember it clearly–I sat in church wondering. I knew I was looking. I felt I knew what I was looking for.
I knew there was truth somewhere in the Bible because I knew there was this basically unexplainable thing that the original 12 disciples had found and were completely willing to die for. And, sorry, but I also knew it wasn’t religion. Nope. There are tons of religions and religions are what make people willing to KILL, not willing to die.
I truly sat in church and realized what I was getting was what people were willing to kill for. I had not found anything I was willing to die for. I was pretty sure those who went before in the Believing tradition had found whatever that was. All the martyrs had had something, found something, and all the Crusaders had not.
I wondered what it was and wanted to find it, if possible.
I’m a sort of scary personality in that I usually just calmly watch and listen. And when I know that I know something, I teach. But if I get pushed, I might flare up. A little bit. Maybe. Heh heh.
So I just sat in church and waited and listened and watched. For all the love I had for the history/tradition, for all the artistic beauty inherent in the average formal church setting, and for all the comfort of repetition, I could not find anything that would be hard to walk away from. At all. But I felt pretty sure whatever it was that I could not find, it was still there to be found, but I could not find it.
Eventually I left for college and ditched it all for a disobedient lifestyle. I married an atheist/agnostic who was a brilliant thinker. (Oh, and he was in the same denomination, so my parents were pretty pleased. Snowed, more like it.)
The VietNam draft and the cost of college forced us to choose the military life for a short while. Then back to college and on to married parenthood and a real job. During this time came the movie “Jesus Christ, Superstar”. We did not view it, but did purchase the soundtrack, for which, for some reason, the product insert included a Bible reference, and we opened the Bible in our home for the first time, ever. And my mostly unchurched husband had questions which I could answer, from the storehouse of Bible memory work I’d spent my childhood learning.
Ironic, no?
Eventually I began feeling guilty about not attending church and since my husband was okay with it, I went a couple of times. You know how that can make you a member, sometimes? First thing I knew, I was teaching VBS. It was 1976, the bicentennial year. I remember that, because the VBS curriculum was all “God and Country” and having just exited the VietNam/college culture, I was really having trouble teaching little children something I did not believe. Really.
I remembered things from the childhood Bible memo work, still, and I remembered that if we ask for spiritual gifts, God always says “yes”. (Or so I was taught.)
Therefore, one night, still angry at the curriculum, and also angry at God, I prayed. “God, if you’re really up there, you’ve got to do one of two things: You either have to change my brain or else you have to get me out of teaching VBS, because I REALLY cannot teach things to little children as truth if I don’t believe them myself.”
Two choices. I actually had issued an ultimatum to God that He had two choices, if He wanted me to believe He exists.
Guess which one He chose.
I was so sure He could not change my brain (because He probably wasn’t really “up there”), and still so mad that He’d let me get into the predicament (because, although He does not exist, everything is His fault, right?), that I was fuming the next morning about what I was going to have to teach to little children.
My husband noticed my agitation and asked what was wrong. I began showing him all the propaganda in the teacher’s book that had made me so angry.
And I could not find it. I could find the book and no pages were missing. But I could not find the “opinions” that had so angered me. I could not find the untruths. I could not find a. single. thing. in that curriculum that was not reasonable, not conceivable, not plausible. I was dumbfounded. I had locked horns with God and lost.
Won, actually. Because overnight, He had instilled faith in my heart. Because I told Him He had to, then rolled over and went to sleep. And He did it.
And I want to tell you what I got was NOT religion. NOT. NOT. NOT.
What I got was life. It’s a whole different thing, entirely.
Even the Bible describes religion: looking after widows and orphans, and keeping yourself unspotted by the world.
That is admirable, yes, but also SO MUCH NOT what I got. I got life in Christ. I finally found what it was that the martyrs had. I’d actually seen God at work and no longer knew He was probably real. I KNEW HIM. His fingerprints were and always are on me.
Just not the same, at all.
Yes, I’ve looked back a bit. Trouble is, He’s got my back. He is always very near. Well, actually, He is in me. In me. The Living Water is not a parable. Nope. It is reality.
It is the only reality.
I used to say, and I think it is relevant, here, that there are 3 Kingdoms:
The Plant Kingdom, which we know for sure we are not a part of.
The Animal Kingdom, which many think they are part of because they think that is the only alternative.
And.
The Kingdom of God, a spiritual kingdom that invisibly coexists all around and among and within us, who belong to Him. A kingdom into which a person must be born. Again.
And that is where I am and where I have been for over forty years.
I have been young and now am old, and I’ve never seen anything I can regret about His lifting me from my slow death into this fractalesque explosion of true life.
Hope you didn’t think our answers would be short… 🙂

One Law

The traditional Gentile Christian says that we are no longer under the Law. Or sometimes they say the Law was never intended for us to begin with. They can’t seem to get their story straight. It’s pick-and-choose. Don’t worry about the Law of Moses – that was given only to the Israelites. Oh, but don’t kill anyone. That’s not right. Keep the 10 Commandments. Those were intended for everyone. Oh, well, except the sabbath day; don’t worry about that one. You know what though? You really shouldn’t get a tattoo or cut yourself. Only rebellious people do that. Oh, and if you commit homosexuality, you’re a reprobate. That’s an abomination. What? So is eating pig? Well, Deuteronomy doesn’t count anymore. Setting up a Christmas tree in your house is okay though. (I know that originated with fertility worship, but God shouldn’t care as long as we use the tree to worship Him.) Forget about the feast days. Yeah, He says they’re perpetual, but since they’ve been fulfilled, it would be sacrilege to keep them anymore. Oh, but you had better pay your tithes!!!!!

No wonder atheists and Jews think we’re crazy.

The Jews that I talk to say that the Law of Moses was never intended for Gentiles at all. But let’s see what their own Torah has to say about that:

“Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 24:22

“One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.” Exodus 12:49

“One law and one manner shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you.” Numbers 15:16

“Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.” Deuteronomy 27:26

The above passage is interesting in that it specifically doesn’t mention foreigners. However, it is referring to a future event, one that actually takes place in Joshua 8, after the fall of Jericho and Ai. Read the whole chapter, but take special note of the last verse:

“There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them” Joshua 8:35

Why would it be a sin for a Gentile to disobey Hebrew Laws? Because they are first and foremost Yahweh’s Laws. They are the very definition of righteousness itself.

Psalm 119:142: “Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.”

Psalm 119:172: “My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.”

And the righteousness of God did not morph somehow with the coming of Christ: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” I John 3:4

Could our Father be any more clear? All of these apologetics you’ve been reading your whole life are merely that – man’s method of explaining away the things they don’t understand.

We seem to think that God and His righteousness and His Law are three separate things, but they aren’t. Since Jesus is the Word made flesh, we should realize that the Torah and the Messiah are inseparable. All of the following verses relate to the pre-incarnate Christ: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”

Read the whole chapter to see what I’m talking about.

Food for thought – how would you suggest that a Messianic Jew live? Should he throw out the perpetual commandments? What does “perpetual” mean to you?

What if you are among the ten lost tribes? What if you are Hebrew and you don’t know it? Most of us probably are: Genesis 48:19. What then?

What about an adopted child? Is he excluded from the laws of the family, or is he treated as a natural-born son? Galatians 3:29

Listen, if you really want to know what’s going on, read the entire Bible. Let it challenge your misconceptions, then dig until you find the answers. Then read it again. You will understand more the next time through, and expose the next layer of misconception. Rinse and repeat – it’s an incredible journey!

Truth-Seekers? Are You There?

Okay, so I have a legitimate question. And the comment section is open to everyone, even if you think it is a stupid question in the first place, and even if you are an agnostic or atheist. I don’t expect everyone to agree with each other, but I do want to engage in respectful, intelligent conversation.

So here it is: have you ever gone through a serious phase of doubt in your life? And when I say doubt, I’m talking about your core beliefs. The ones that make you who you are. The reasons that you behave the way you do. I’m referring to the lens through which you view all other beliefs and ideologies.

I sincerely want to hear what you all have to say, even if you don’t call yourself a Christian. However, it is my opinion that this is something that sincere Christians do not talk about often enough. To me, it almost feels like the church is operating under an Emperor’s-New-Clothes mentality. We’re afraid that if we admit to having doubt, it will de-legitimize everything we claim to believe about God. Has anyone else felt what I’m feeling here?

So, if you did have doubts, or if you still do, where did they come from? Did you read something in the Bible that caused you to second-guess? Did you have a conversation that challenged your long-held beliefs? Maybe someone asked a question, and you just couldn’t fathom having an answer that fit in with everything you’ve ever believed.

I’d like to get a little bit of self-analyzing here, because I think it’s important that we ask the hard questions in an effort to become fully aware of why we believe what we do. I don’t think it’s good for people to float through life believing everything they’ve ever been told, even if it was a highly respected or valued individual that taught them.

Be a believer or a non-believer, as you wish. But be an intelligent one. Know why you are clinging to your religion (or anti-religion, as the case may be).

Okay, so a couple of follow up questions for those who have doubted: did you search for answers, or allow your beliefs to fall by the wayside? Did your religion suddenly become the most important thing you could possibly dig into and research, or did you just shrug your shoulders and leave it in the dust? Why do you think you reacted that way?

Did you come full-circle? Are you believing what you believed before, or did something change with the new information? What changed, and why?

If you doubted, and did your research, and are now a believer again, do you feel that your faith is stronger than ever? Do you feel that you needed to experience a time of doubting and searching to become the person you are today?

If you have never doubted, not even for a moment, why not? Are you clinging so closely to what you grew up believing that there’s no room for questions? Are you afraid to ask the hard questions? Afraid that you won’t like the answers, or afraid that you may be misled by someone who believes differently than you?

Truth is worth seeking. Even if you have to break down 50 years of traditional beliefs, even if it divides you from your friends and family, Truth is worth finding. Seek with a whole heart, and never be afraid of the Truth. Truth is freedom.

If the Bible is true, and I have found that it is, then your seeking will not go unrewarded. You will find the answers you are looking for:

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32

Three Days and Three Nights

I read this post and had to share it with you all. I have tried to explain this before: Jesus was crucified and buried on a preparation day for the High Sabbath that always follows Passover, and not on the preparation day for the weekly sabbath. I think it is that misconception alone that accounts for the traditional Friday-Sunday timeline we have today, and the miles of straw-grasping apologetics that have resulted from it.

This post is very clear and easy to understand! Enjoy!

Here’s an excerpt, to give you an idea of what you’ll be reading:

“Did you catch the problem here? John tells us it was still dark when Mary went to the tomb on Sunday morning and found it empty. Jesus was already resurrected well before daybreak. Thus He wasn’t in the tomb any of the daylight portion of Sunday, so none of that can be counted as a day.”

https://www.ucg.org/the-good-news/jesus-wasnt-crucified-on-friday-or-resurrected-on-sunday-how-long-was-jesus-in-the

Believers, Do You Read Your Bible?

Bible-reading: How can I express its importance?

How can I put it into the right words?

What argument can I use to encourage you to pick up this life-giving book?

If you don’t believe it’s all that important, why not? What are the reasons that you allow it to take a backseat to the other priorities in your life? Let’s talk about it and see if we can get to the bottom of the issue here.

I have a few more questions for you, intended to provoke you to action.

How can you claim to believe something you’ve never even read?

How do you know what the Bible says about where we came from, how we are supposed to worship, what obedience entails, and where we are going to end up? If you haven’t read the Bible to glean these answers, then you are merely believing what someone told you. You are choosing a person to trust rather than the Word of God itself.

Is there anything within its pages that would surprise you? How do you know?

Is there hidden treasure inside that might be the answer to the persistent questions or problems in your life? What if you’re missing it?

His words are truth. His instructions are life. Please don’t miss out. That book over there, sitting on the shelf collecting dust – it has the power to change you, but first you have to read it.

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